International Journal of Social Rehabilitation

LETTER TO EDITOR
Year
: 2018  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30--31

Impact of new amendments in child labor laws on the health of children in India


Madhur Borah 
 Department of Community Medicine, Jorhat Medical College, Jorhat, Assam, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Madhur Borah
Department of Community Medicine, Jorhat Medical College, Jorhat - 785 001, Assam
India




How to cite this article:
Borah M. Impact of new amendments in child labor laws on the health of children in India.Int J Soc Rehabil 2018;3:30-31


How to cite this URL:
Borah M. Impact of new amendments in child labor laws on the health of children in India. Int J Soc Rehabil [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Jul 21 ];3:30-31
Available from: http://www.ijsocialrehab.com/text.asp?2018/3/1/30/244542


Full Text



Sir,

According to recent global estimates 150 million children are involved in child labor. India contributes to the highest number of child labor in the world.[1]

India is committed to eliminate child labor and therefore numbers of legislative measures are in force. Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is one of them. The recent amendments to the act passed by parliament on July 2016 hopes to strengthen the government's efforts, but the same time, the new amendments created some controversies. The amendments propose complete prohibition of employment of children up to the age of 14 years while banning employment of children between 15 and 18 years in hazardous works. Certain exemptions were included in the Act where a child can help his family or in fields or home-based work (family enterprises) after school hours and relaxation were included for those children engaged in sports, entertainment industry.[2]

Many child right activists and nongovernmental organization's working with children raised objections to certain points in the new act. They are in the view that allowing children in home and family enterprise even after school period might influence school dropouts. The term family enterprise is also not well defined which will lead to misuse, prohibited categories of labors are few, the new provisions may hamper recreational activities of children after school hours leading to the improper development of the child.[3]

One of the major concerns is health status of children and adolescent engaged in household labor and family enterprises. In India, most children are suffering from malnutrition and anemia. Those working as child laborer are more vulnerable to diseases and malnutrition. A study conducted among the children engaged in household level enterprises found that the most children suffered from body pain, eye problem, headache due to poor working conditions in homes.[4] The study conducted among bidi workers found that people exploited the loophole in laws by giving production work to families, who in turn used children. One of the foremost impacts on the life of these children apart from high drop out from school is that they are at greater risk of diseases such as tuberculosis, asthma, anemia, postural and eye problems, and psychological problems.[5] One analysis of various nationwide surveys and large studies on child labor observed that a large knowledge gap exists on the effects of unpaid household labor on children's health but given the complexity of the issue, unpaid household labor may have adverse health effects on children which need further studies for validation.[6]

The government response in the face of these criticisms is that the proposed amendment clearly mentions “after school hours” which to be strictly implemented with a heavy penalty on defaulters and outsourcing or sub-contracting of works involving children in the family to be prohibited. The Government of India assured that there will be child labor monitoring systems at various levels to be implemented through the Ministry of Labor.

Children working in family enterprises can be an opportunity for human development, but there should be strong safeguards available for optimal health and development of children and current laws are still not enough in this regard. Some recommendations maybe considered which includes a proper definition of child labor, limit the definition of family and family enterprises and adequate coverage of hazardous occupations and processes in the law, also proper implementation of child health programs in India.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1UNICEF. UNICEF Data: Child Labour, Current Status and Progress. New York: UNICEF; 2016. Available from: http://www.data.unicef.org/child-protection/child-labour.html. [Last accessed on 2016 Aug 30].
2Govt of India. Ministry of Law and Justice. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 (Act no 35 of 2016). Government Gazette No. DL—(N) 04/0007/2003—16; 2016.
3Giri VV. National Labour Institute (NLI). Exploring Education Strategies to Address Child Labour in India: Summary Report of the Technical Consultation. New Delhi: NLI; 2015. p. 23-4.
4Save the Children. The Hidden Workforce: A Study on Child Labour in the Garment Industry in Delhi. Save the Children. New Delhi; 2015. p. 35-6.
5Dube Y, Mohandoss G. A Study on Child Labour in Indian Beedi Industry. New Delhi: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; 2013. p. 4-5.
6Dayıoğlu M. Impact of Unpaid Household Services on the Measurement of Child Labour, MICS Methodological Papers, No. 2. Statistics and Monitoring Section, Division of Policy and Strategy, United Nations Children's Fund. New York; 2013. p. 12-4.